Jack Butland has been tracked by pretty much every team in the top flight since arriving onto the scene with Cheltenham Town and Birmingham City.

Having already been called-up to the England senior squad on numerous occasions, Butland also started every game in Team GB’s Olympic Games campaign, further enhancing his reputation as an up and coming talent.

Birmingham were resigned to losing their prized asset due to their financial plight, coupled with their poor performance in the Championship since being relegated in May 2011.

Indeed, Chelsea were reported to have made a formal approach for Butland during the January transfer window but were unsuccessful as the England international rejected the chance to speak to the reigning European champions, citing a desire to move for first-team football.

Butland did eventually agree a deadline day deal with Stoke, although the 19-year-old keeper will spend the rest of the season on loan at St. Andrews as he continues his development.

And the maturity he has shown in choosing to join a side where he looks likely to be first choice, with Asmir Begovic attracting interest from Manchester United, speaks volumes of the character of the man.

In an interview with BBC West Midlands, Birmingham manager Lee Clark has tipped Butland to become "the best goalkeeper in Europe" given time.

"I thought it was unbelievable maturity from the boy not to pursue that one [Chelsea] because in the short term he didn't see a route into the first team," Clark said.

"That's unbelievable. I think many young players would have jumped at that for the profile and financial rewards.

"But Jack looks at the bigger picture. He's not only a top player but he's a top young guy.

"It's easy to be a top player, but what he's shown over this transfer window is that he's unbelievably mature and got a great awareness of what life's about."

Clark believes that Butland has made the right choice to join Stoke, as joining Tony Pulis' side will present the former Cheltenham loanee with the opportunity to play regular football before going on to join one of Europe's elite.

"He knows eventually he's going to be at a top club, and that's not disrespectful to Stoke who are a great Premier League club and have a fantastic manager," added Clark

"But ultimately he's going to end up at a Champions League club competing for the higher honours."

In an age where young talents are often lured away too soon with offers of big money and instant stardom, it's refreshing to see a young England player with his priorities in check, and there are plenty of others who should follow example set by Jack Butland.


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